THE BLOG
03/23/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Change: The Supreme Court and Massachusetts

The people of Massachusetts wanted change. So the third most educated state in the union (after Vermont and Connecticut, surprising, isn't it?) elected a good-looking white male (Cosmopolitan magazine centerfold) who supports water-boarding and troop increases in Afghanistan and opposes the health care bill and the proposed multi-billion dollar tax on banks. Change, really? It doesn't sound like a shiny new product to me.

And then the Supreme Court put another nail in the coffin by rejecting a ban on campaign spending limits for corporations and labor unions. So now, in what claims to be the greatest democratic society on earth, a corporation, an "artificial person," will have the same voice as an individual -- only with a really big amplifier. As my brother, Tom Teal points out, even if we could raise the same $745 million dollars for the next Presidential election a single corporation could match that amount without even bothering the bonus pool. (It has been reported that Goldman Sachs will pay $16.2 billion in bonuses this year.) Knowing that Pfizer, Bank of America and Exxon Mobil will have no limit on their contributions makes it impossible to ask the woman in line at the grocery store in Deer River, MN who signed over part of her social security check to Obama during the last election to make that sacrifice again. If you thought there was too much money in political elections before, hold onto your socks come November. Unions will be able to spend too, of course. Well, that is, if there is anyone left with a a unionized job.

If you loved the health care bill that was shaped by Big Pharma and the insurance industry, you're really going to be head-over-heels for the climate change legislation that Big Oil and Big Coal have planned for us. (For a really good summary of their work up to now see here.) And wait until you see the financial reform that Big Banks have in mind. Starting in the next election cycle, these corporations can be pretty much assured that anyone who stands in their way will be out of power -- maybe not out of office, but there is certainly now a very good chance that, with unlimited funds, they can elect a Congress and Senate to their liking. In short, we have lost our window of opportunity. Twice. First with the defeat in Massachusetts and again with this Court ruling. What we don't do in the next six months isn't going to be done. And those six months aren't looking promising.

And yet, by nature, I am optimistic. Brown will be running for re-election in Massachusetts, after all, not Nebraska, and next time the Democrats are unlikely to run a lazy, arrogant candidate. And even with all the Bay state's red areas, the voters still like Obama and they aren't going to reelect someone who just seems like a road block. After all, they say they were voting for a populist candidate who wanted to mix things up. As for the Supreme Court's decision and holding Democratic majorities in 2012. Those are tougher.